Skin cancer: the risks and how to protect yourself - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Skin cancer: the risks and how to protect yourself

Posted: Updated:
(05/19/14) - The brutal winter we had makes spring days even sweeter, but there is real danger in soaking up too much sun - skin cancer.

"One out of five individuals will develop a skin cancer in their lifetime," said Kimball Silverton, D.O., dermatologist, of the Silverton Skin Institute in Grand Blanc Township. "It is the most common form of cancer."

Mid-Michigan doctors are diagnosing it at a rapid rate.

"There are three, main ones - basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell and malignant, with malignant, by far, being the most deadly," said Walter Barkey, M.D., dermatologist. "It's probably what I see every day, and almost every hour of every day, here in the office."

It can affect anyone.

"I have several cousins with skin cancer, one of whom can't go outside at all without hat and long sleeves," said Inez Slaubaugh.

Slaubaugh spends winters in Florida and says she worries more about it there, but she is still careful here in Michigan.

"I've not been a sun worshiper, so I've not had all the damage from childhood," she said.

Some have a higher risk of developing skin cancer, and age is a key risk factor. Excessive sun exposure can promote development.

"From one day of getting a sunburn, we develop 10,000 cancer cells," Silverton said. "If we're nice and young, sometimes we can fight them off. Many times as we get older, we can't fight them off anymore and they grow and we develop problems. If a malignant melanoma goes deeper than a millimeter ... most of those people will be gone within the next five years."

Caught early and treated the right way, skin cancer can be cured.

Maybe most important - to know what to look for and not just on sun exposed areas of your body.

"You should look for moles that are changing. That are black in color. Weird color such as green and blue. Bleeding. Growing. Becoming painful," Silverton said.

Dr. Walter Barkey is with the Flint Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery Center in Mundy Township.

"It's most important to try and recognize melanoma and most of the people that have those really don't know what they're looking for," he said. "We're looking for a skin lesion that usually has pigment in it, usually has what we call the ugly duckling sign. It doesn't match your other skin lesions. If you don't catch your basal cell carcinoma quick enough, you'll end up with a bigger scar that's more disfiguring. But if you don't catch your melanoma early enough, you'll pay the ultimate price."

Protecting yourself is key.

Both Barkey and Silverton strongly suggested staying away from indoor tanning beds and also limiting sun exposure and using a broad-spectrum sunscreen.

"A palm size of sunscreen SPF of 15, preferably SPF of 30, putting it on all those sun exposed areas," Silverton said.

Check yourself - and check-in with a doctor.

"Protect yourself and enjoy the few days of nice weather we get in Michigan," Silverton said.

May is skin cancer awareness month. For more information about protection and detection, click HERE.
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